Planning a Trip to New Orleans

Are you planning a trip to New Orleans!? I went to New Orleans Girls for a Trip with Vera Sweeney! It was the best trip I’ve ever been on and I’m dying to share with you all about it! I haven’t been on a girls trip in a really, really (REALLY) long time. I think the older we get, the more we need to make sure we’re spending time with the people who make us better and happier. I wasn’t sure what to expect on this trip because we’re not crazy party goers, but it was so much fun and there’s so much to do in New Orleans!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

First – let me preface this New Orleans Girls Trip with these 3 statements:
1. Every woman needs a Girls’ Trip!
2. Every mom should be required to take a Girls’ Trip (at least once a year)!
3. New Orleans needs to be a destination for your next Girls’ Trip.

Many people see Vera and me traveling throughout the country for work.  We have become travel buddies and know each other inside and out. It’s always fun to travel with Vera because we make each other laugh and we always (always, always) have a good time when we’re together. Usually when we travel it’s strictly for work – we’re at a conference, we’re speaking somewhere, we’re at a brand activation or we’re in business meetings. Very rarely do we get a getaway with each other and just be able to relax, enjoy and have a good time from sun up ’til sun down!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

In New Orleans, we were able to do just that – relax, enjoy and have some girlfriend fun! To be honest with you, I didn’t really know much about New Orleans except for its iconic Bourbon Street.

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

What I loved was that Vera and I were able to experience some new places, new food and new adventures together. I’m excited to share with you what we did, where we stayed and where we ate! It was a whirlwind of a trip, right before the holidays (December 15-18th), which was actually a wonderful time to go for us because it was nice to have some fun before the chaos of the holidays.

We stayed at the Royal Sonesta Hotel right on Bourbon Street, which was amazing because we were up close and personal to the energy and vibe of the French Quarter.

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

Planning a Trip to New Orleans  – Where to Stay

As soon as we exited our Uber on the first day and saw where the hotel was located, we knew it was going to be a fun weekend! The decor of the hotel was classic and elegant and luxurious. As their website says, “Traditional gabled windows, rich colors and linens accented with fresh flowers, wrought-iron balconies, and a lush courtyard create an experience unlike any other. Royal Sonesta New Orleans offers the best of the Big Easy all under one roof. The hotel is home to several dining and entertainment venues, where you can take in the local flavors from Cajun and Creole at Restaurant R’evolution to coffee at PJ’s Cafe and fresh seafood at Desire Oyster Bar. Hit our club The Jazz Playhouse, voted best for hotels on Bourbon Street New Orleans, LA. Or unwind with a cocktail at Le Booze, one of our five bars.

We each stayed in our own room, which was nice because we had the extra space to stretch out and completely relax at the end of the night (and I didn’t have to listen to Vera’s sound machine!). The guestrooms were beautiful!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans The decor was modern, but classic and timeless. The colors in the rooms were serene and peaceful. I’m obsessed with gold fixtures and accents, so I loved seeing these touches in my room. I took a couple of photos of the accessories and texted them to my husband for some inspiration! There was ample room to spread out, especially for us, considering we packed like we were going away for a month! And! The hotel bathroom got 2 thumbs’ up from me! I was easily able to spread out all of my essentials on the counter. I love when I have the ability to do that, not crammed into a small space. The older I get, the more in-tuned I’m becoming to the easy of things like this.Planning a Trip to New Orleans

As you can see, lodging for us was a win-win! If you’re looking for a place to stay, definitely check the Royal Sonesta Hotel. It’s literally in the middle of the French Quarter, so it’s an easy and accessible place to get to many different places by foot in the French Quarter. If you’re looking for an experience like this, this is your hotel!

Where to Eat – Planning a Trip to New Orleans

We had our very first meal at the Desire Oyster Bar, which is directly connected to the Royal Sonesta Hotel. We were told that the Desire Oyster Bar offers one of the most authentic dining experiences in New Orleans, so we were excited to head on in and feast. We immediately grabbed a table overlooking Bourbon Street for lunch and took in all the sights while enjoying our meals. Since we’re both not local and (I’ll be honest) I’m not a foodie, we asked our waitress to recommend spotlight dishes that we just had to try. This became a theme all weekend for us – asking for recommendations from people who know the lay of the land the best. For lunch we each had the Creole Trio – Creole Gumbo, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Smoked Sausage. Planning a Trip to New OrleansIt was incredible! Definitely a meal I would recommend to anyone heading here for lunch or dinner. You get 3 samplings of New Orleans food that is out of this world delicious! We also tried Fried Alligator, which was a treat within itself (and tasted like chicken!).

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

Planning a Trip to New Orleans – Do a Tour

Since we wanted to make sure we did things that would enhance the New Orleans experience, we knew going out on a Haunted Tour would be something fun. OK… I’m terrified of things like this, but Vera LOVES them! So, as a great best friend, I tagged along. We went on the 5-in-1 Haunted Ghost and Mystery Tour, guided by Lisa (who was phenomenal).

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

The tour is about:

Ghosts, Vampires, Witches, Voodoo & Unexplained Mysteries all together in one tour. Follow our licensed guides into the dark alleys and secret courtyards for the thrill tour like no other. Hear the tales of unsolved murders and crimes of passion that left their ghostly imprints in our history. Follow the footsteps of a mysterious serial killer many believe was something other than human. Find out why things aren’t always what they appear to be in the hidden corners of the French Quarter! Perfect for those who only have time for one tour and want a little taste of everything.Planning a Trip to New Orleans

I have to say, it wasn’t too scary, but VERY interesting. What I loved about Lisa’s tour was that she gave us so many stories about the history and folklore and tales of New Orleans and she kept saying to us, “I’m here to tell you stories, you draw your own conclusions.” I didn’t realize so much about the history of New Orleans and the people until I took this tour. It really brought us through so much history and fun with history, but through interesting and mind-boggling stories. Definitely a must do!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans – Planning a Dinner

For dinner on our first night we dined at the recommended Meauxbar, located on the corner of Vieux Carre, one step off the brand-new Rampart Streetcar line and across the street from lush Armstrong Park. Planning a Trip to New OrleansThe second we saw Meauxbar on the corner, we knew it was going to be perfect for us. It reminded me of a trendy place that you’d find in Soho in NYC. They have an authentic menu and creative, intimate bar. We kept saying it would be the perfect spot for a romantic date! Planning a Trip to New Orleans

I kicked off my meal with their Kale Salad and then my main course was Seared Scallops (recommended by our waiter!). Everything was delicious! And – of course – you can’t have a dinner without dessert in New Orleans!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

I swear it’s not even an option here. We left stuffed as can be, but loved every single second. As a matter of fact, when we got back to the hotel and heading up in the elevator, we recommended Meauxbar to a couple. I hope they loved it!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans – YOU NEED TO GET BEIGNETS!

Our next day was packed from beginning to end with lots of fun experiences. We kicked off our Saturday at the iconic Café Beignet on Royal Street. It’s funny – just when you think the whole City is sleeping at 8:30am – you walk around the corner and see the line outside there. It’s THAT kind of iconic! And as you can imagine, we dined on delectable BEIGNETS for breakfast!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

Café Beignet is a cup full of New Orleans’ best European traditions. For two hundred years, New Orleanians have savored every sip of their rich coffee accompanied by delicate, crisp beignets (ben-yays).

These golden squares, usually dusted with powdered confectioner’s sugar, can best be described as a cross between a French pastry and an American doughnut. In New Orleans, beignets are enjoyed at a breakfast, for dessert, or any time for a special treat.

We even went back to Café Beignet for a sweet dessert the next day. We couldn’t help it! Once you have a beignet, you just consistently want another. They were perfection… light, doughy and covered with powered sugar. I mean… COVERED! Great way to kick off the day!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans – MUSEUM!

The next stop on our 2nd day was to the National World War II Museum.

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

I have to say – this was one of my most favorite things to do and experience while in New Orleans. I couldn’t believe how moving this Museum was for me and how impactful it was to tour and view and visit. If you’re ever in New Orleans, the National World War II Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world–why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today–so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired. It was incredible to stop and think that my grandparents were alive during this time. My grandparents experienced this piece of the world in their lives. It was really very, very powerful and moving.

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

While we were there, we were told that a must-do was to view the movie Beyond All Boundaries. This was incredible. I mean, INCREDIBLE. Beyond All Boundaries, showing exclusively in The National WWII Museum’s Solomon Victory Theater, is a 4D journey through the war that changed the world. This Museum-produced film experience is narrated by executive producer Tom Hanks, with Phil Hettema serving as show producer and creative director. Beyond All Boundaries features dazzling effects, CGI animation, multilayered environments, and first-person accounts from the trenches to the Home Front read by Brad Pitt, Tobey Maguire, Gary Sinise, Patricia Clarkson, Wendell Pierce, and more.

I wanted to buy something for myself at the gift shop to remember the experience, and as soon as I saw this iconic sign – I bought it for my Vision Board!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

For lunch we were off to Cochon Butcher! Planning a Trip to New Orleans

Planning a Trip to New Orleans – LUNCH SPOTS!

What was so cool about this restaurant? Let me share this… Established in 2009 in the New Orleans Warehouse District, Butcher is a butcher shop, a sandwich counter and a wine bar located next door to Cochon. Chefs Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski offer small plates, daily lunch specials and dinner entrees. Inspired by old-world meat markets, Butcher specializes in house made meats, terrines and sausages. The fresh cuts are handpicked, and the ready-to-cook items are available daily. Butcher offers an array of house made pickles, jellies, jams and sauces, as well as a carefully curated collection of handmade knives, cutting boards and branded merchandise. Planning a Trip to New OrleansI love how warm and friendly Cochon Butcher was to walk into! It was the perfect destination for a yummy and relaxing lunch. The staff was awesome and (per usual) gave us perfect recommendations. I – of course – had pork and it was insanely delish!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans – MUST VISIT!

After lunch, we went to Mardi Gras World! Talk about a world within a world! Mardi Gras is what New Orleans is known for and it was absolutely incredible to learn about the history of Mardi Gras AND (the coolest) see what goes into making a Mardi Gras! Planning a Trip to New OrleansWhen you visit Mardi Gras World, you see the largest float designing and building facility in the world. That’s right – in the world! Believe it or not, but more than 80 percent of the floats that journey down New Orleans’ streets during the Carnival season are designed and built right HERE. Planning a Trip to New Orleans The history began back in 1947 by float designer and builder Blaine Kern and truly an empire was born. Mardi Gras World provides visitors with the opportunity to wear authentic Mardi Gras costumes and tour enormous warehouses filled with floats. The tour includes a short video and a tour on Mardi Gras history and customs. Planning a Trip to New OrleansI could have spent hours just walking around and gazing at the different floats. They were MASSIVE and just creative and unique and overall amazing! This should be a definite MUST-DO on your New Orleans itinerary!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

And to wrap up our second day, we experienced Celebration in the Oaks. I feel like this is a HUGE local thing to do, most likely like visiting Manhattan in New York during the holidays. It was packed with people and filled with families all excited and anxious to see the beautiful holiday lights. If you’ve never experienced this in New Orleans, it is VERY cool to check out! Planning a Trip to New OrleansCelebration in the Oaks in City Park is one of the most spectacular holiday lights festivals in the country, with more than 165,000 visitors pouring into the Park to see the magical winter spectacle. City Park’s famous oaks are covered thousands of twinkling lights and breathtaking light displays are scattered throughout 25 acres of the Park, including the Botanical Garden, Storyland, and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. Planning a Trip to New OrleansIt was adorable to see the kids so excited about the lights… I kept thinking how much my kids would love it! Vera and I had a wonderful time walking around and taking in the all the sights. Usually when I’m with my kids, I feel like we do a lot in fast forward motion, and it was nice to relax and take in these magnificent sights during the holidays.

As you can see, we had a ton of fun in New Orleans!! I have a bunch more to share with you, so make sure you check out my next post, too! It’s Part 2 of The Ultimate Girls Trip in New Orleans! If you’re going to do New Orleans, you may as well do it with a best friend! You will experience everything together and have memories that last a lifetime!

Planning a Trip to New Orleans – IT’S A MUST DO!

See my our Day 2!!

Disclosure: This was a sponsored Travel Trip with New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. All opinions and photos are mine.

Planning a Trip to New Orleans

About Audrey

Audrey McClelland has been a digital influencer since 2005. She’s a mom of 5 and shares tips on her three favorite things: parenting, fashion and beauty. She’s also a Contemporary Romance Author.

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  1. 1.11.18

    New Orleans is such a great city! I’ve been there several times, and I always want to go back as soon as I leave. It is just dripping with excitement and history.

  2. 1.11.18
    Gisele said:

    I love New Orleans. We went in 2016 and toured Villalobos Rescue Center, Oak Alley Plantation, and The Laura Plantation. We went on a swamp boat tour which was so cool to see the wildlife there. We also did a cemetery tour and a ghost tour and both were incredibly fun. We loved it so much we’re going back in April. I have four girl friends that are going with me for a week. We’re renting a remodeled 1929 home for a week through VRBO. I would like to go during Christmas one year just to see what it is like.

  3. 1.11.18

    Couldn’t agree more: every woman deserves a girls’ adventure/trip. Glad to see that you have a trusted travelling partner! Looks like tons of fun.

  4. 1.11.18

    You ladies picked a perfect spot for a girls trip! My daughter visited once and I have wanted to go ever since! What a mystical magical place! The food OH YEAH!

  5. 1.12.18
    Marysa said:

    I haven’t been to New Orleans, and like you (before your trip!) I don’t know much about it besides Bourbon Street either. How cool that you had a chance to check it out and explore with your friends. Looks like a lot of fun!

  6. 1.12.18
    nicole said:

    I haven’t been in years, but this post makes me want to go so desperately!!!

  7. 1.12.18
    Barry David said:

    I have been to New Orleans a few times but I haven’t been to most of the places you mentioned. Next time I go I will definitely have to check them out. And I will have to stay at the Royal Sonesta!

  8. 1.12.18

    What an amazing trip you had! The hotel looks beautiful and the food, delicious, although I wouldn’t be able to handle food that’s too spicy. Those beignets, though, remind me of the classic fairgrounds food, fried dough, also with powdered sugar sprinkled on it!

  9. 1.12.18

    I need to take a trip to NO this year. I love hanging out there.

  10. 1.12.18

    You know, if I’m being entirely honest, I usually don’t care to see other people’s holiday snaps and reviews (I know, I suck) but I actually LOVED this one. New Orleans is somewhere I would consider going and your pictures were beautiful. I loved that you took shots of the menus and the food, giving the reader some great info to go on.
    That hotel is GORGEOUS and it’s one I’ve seen on TV during mardi gras. So very cool.
    Looks like you had an amazing trip and I’m genuinely glad I stopped by to see these. Excellent post!!

  11. 1.12.18
    Ada said:

    NOLA is such a fun city! I want to visit again soon. So much culture and life in the city.

  12. 1.12.18
    Amy H said:

    I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I know with my love for Jazz, this is one place I’ve wanted to visit. Nor have I had a Girls Trip… Ever..

  13. 1.13.18
    Susan Hail said:

    What a fun trip! I want to go to that museum. It looked very interesting. great photos and love recommendations on hotel and restaurants.

  14. 1.13.18
    Lynndee said:

    Looks like you girls had a blast! We’ve never been to New Orleans, but hopefully we get to visit the place someday. And I will keep that hotel in mind.

  15. 1.15.18
    Thomas P said:

    Love New Orleans! One of the best trips I have ever had. This post is making me explore some airfare to my favorite city right now! I need a real beignet in my life haha

  16. 1.15.18

    So agree with you – EVERYONE needs a girl’s trip. It looked like the two of you had the best time…and managed to pack SO MUCH in to your trip. I LOVE New Orleans and can’t wait to go back.

  17. 1.16.18
    admin said:

    The beignets were EVERYTHING!

  18. 1.16.18
    admin said:

    Next time you come… #2weeks

  19. 1.16.18
    brianne said:

    I would so love to visit New Orleans! Its totally on my bucket list!

  20. 1.16.18
    Monica said:

    This looks so awesome and I’m so glad that you to got to experience all of this together! I need a trip there with my bestie!

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